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The Harlem Gospel Choir at Lebanon Opera House.
By Kim Windyka
Old playbills from Portsmouth Music Hall.
Hollywood, Broadway, Vegas … New Hampshire? Sure, the
Granite State may look slightly out of place amongst these
star-studded locales, but its unique and historic venues
create the kind of entertainment experience that you’d be
hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
And The Band Played On… Whether you’ve sold your soul to
rock & roll, live and die by country western or flip out over folk music,
New Hampshire has got you covered. The Lebanon Opera House has
served as a movie theater and a stage for community productions in
the past, but today, it mostly plays host to musical acts that span all
genres, from the Harlem Gospel Choir to singer/songwriter Martin
Sexton. While there aren’t any slot machines to speak of at the
Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom (www.casinoballroom.com), you
can catch national rock, pop and country acts like Indigo Girls, The
Beach Boys and George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, as well as
It couldn’t hurt to add some drama to your life, right?
Official Visitors Guide | New Hampshire
New Hampshire | ENTERTAINMENT
produces one show a week during the season – last
year’s lineup included “Driving Miss Daisy” and
“Babes In Arms.” In store this year is the classic
“Romeo and Juliet” and “The Fantasticks.” If you’re in
the Concord area, The Capitol Center for the Arts
(www.ccanh.com) presents Broadway musicals,
comedians and even symphony orchestras.
Clockwise from above left: Manchester’s Palace Theatre;
The Music Hall in Portsmouth; Portsmouth Music Hall dancers.
the occasional stand-up comedian at this popular
beachside venue, originally established in 1899
as a multi-purpose recreation and entertainment
facility. Kid, teen and family-friendly shows are
a specialty of Plaistow’s The Sad Café (www.
thesadcafe.com), which provides a stage for upand-coming area bands and offers arts enrichment
programs for the region’s youth.
Curtain Call It couldn’t hurt to add some
drama to your life, right? Fortunately, the state’s
full of spots to see stage shows. The Music Hall
in Portsmouth (www.themusichall.org), the
oldest theater in the state and 14th oldest in the
country (and newly renovated), does host musical
guests from time to time, but has more recently
presented theater for both kids and adults, book
readings and dance companies. Aside from staging
adaptations of popular productions like “I Love
You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” and “High School
Musical” with local talent, Manchester’s Palace
Theatre (www.palacetheatre.org) also runs two
youth theater companies and hosts variety shows.
In its 75th year, the Peterborough Players
(www.peterboroughplayers.org) are fittingly
located in the town upon which Thornton Wilder’s
famed “Our Town” was based, and its first local
staging took place here. Today, the companies
put on 10 shows annually in a 200-seat theater.
The Barnstormers (www.barnstormerstheatre.org),
a traditional summer stock theater in Tamworth,
Lights! Camera! Action! Trade in the massive
multiplexes for some authentic theaters that bring
back the magic of the motion picture. Built in
1886, the intimate Wilton Town Hall Theatre
independent art-house films rather than big
blockbusters in one of two theaters. One was
originally used for vaudeville performers and silent
movies, and another, “The Screening Room,” was a
changing area for the performers. Over in Keene,
The Colonial Theatre (www.thecolonial.org) has
hosted famous figures like Amelia Earhart and
Thornton Wilder since it opened in 1924, and now
runs both cult-classic and current movies, as well
as theatrical productions. !
AT THE DRIVE IN
family favorite since the good old days,
the drive-in movie theater is practically an
endangered species. Luckily, New Hampshire
is home to three that are still reeling us in.
MILFORD DRIVE-IN THEATER, www.milforddrivein.com
This drive-in, in operation since 1958, has two screens showing
double features. And don’t worry about those old-fashioned
door-mounted speakers – Milford broadcasts its movies on a local
FM radio station. If the kids get bored with the flicks, there’s even
an on-site playground to entertain them.
WEIRS DRIVE-IN THEATER, www.weirsbeach.net/drivein.html
Cool off after a day at the beach and
head over to this four-screen theater
which holds the title of largest drive-in
in New Hampshire. Established in
1949, it’s situated nearby the Weirs
Beach Water Slide and Volcano minigolf course.
Talk about being two (or three) places at
once: This family-owned and -operated
drive-in has the distinction of being
located right on the New Hampshire,
Massachusetts and Vermont state lines. Another claim to fame:
It was featured in the 1999 film The Cider House Rules.